Monday, April 21, 2014
Sesame Date Pie
At noon, I sped off to Nationals Stadium with my friend Pat to see my first baseball game of the season. The Nats played valiantly, but alas, lost, 4-3.
So it was, that when I finally got home and began work on the pie for Easter lunch, I was tired. This dessert had already undergone one transformation. It was going to be Rum Rhubarb pie, but neither Safeway nor Whole Foods had any rhubarb. I plumped for Sesame Date Pie, except I didn't remember the sesame part, and used a premade pie shell. So, what I ended up with was Sesame Date Pie minus the sesame.
Anyhow, this is definitely a day before recipe. The timing is finicky and it has to jell. The cook is much better off getting down to business the night before. As I said, I used a premade pie shell. The sesame seeds are supposed to be incorporated into the pie dough. I can't say anything about the directions for the pastry since I didn't make it.
This is one of those double boiler recipes that have useful directions like "heat mixture until the gelatin and sugar are dissolved (easy) and mixture coats the back of a spoon" (#%&!) Not a helpful direction, in my book. I put the gelatin and water in the double boiler and added the milk, egg yolks and sugar. Recipes involving milk, eggs and a double boiler require pretty constant stirring to make sure the eggs don't cook. You can tell that the gelatin and sugar are dissolved when you no longer hear them scratching on the bottom of the bowl when you stir. Coating the back of the spoon is an entirely different matter. I cooked and stirred for 25 minutes before the mixture seemed to have thickened and was coating anything.
Then, the recipe says to add the vanilla and the rum or cognac and chill "until the mixture starts to thicken" This means keeping a close eye on the mixture because one does not want it to harden. I left the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. The mixture was a little thicker than I would have liked, plus it continued to harden even after it was taken out of the frig. So, if you want a pie that looks like the picture on the box of pudding and pie filling, watch it like a hawk.
The pie that I started at 6:00 finally went into the refrigerator for the last time at 9:00 when I sat down and fell asleep in front of Inspector Lewis on PBS. I was too tired to make the mini clam pies I intended to make for the Easter hospitality hour. Anyhow, make this pie the night before you want to serve it and use the timer.
Dates are not something I am naturally drawn to. In fact, it is hard for me to understand the appeal of the things at all, but the pie turned out fine, and the guests seemed to like it. Only my husband ate the alternative dessert provided when I thought I was making rhubarb pie.
Sesame Date Pie
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted
3 tablespoons cold water, approximately
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup less two tablespoons milk
2 eggs separated
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons run or cognac
3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped,
1 cup pitted fresh dates, finely chopped (The dates I bought at Whole Foods were dried.)
1. To prepare pastry, place the flour, salt, shortening and butter in a bowl. With a pastry blender or the finger tips, blend the fat into the flour until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.
2. Using a fork, stir in the sesame seeds and water to make a dough. Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill briefly, about fifteen minutes.
3. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board or pastry cloth and fit into a nine-inch pie plate. Decorate the edge and chill shell fifteen minutes.
4. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 425 degrees,
5. Prick pie shell with a fork. Bake twenty to twenty-five minutes or until baked and golden. Cool.
6. To prepare filling, soak the gelatin in the water in the top of a double boiler. Beat the milk with the egg yolks and add with four tablespoons of the sugar and the salt.
7. Heat mixture over hot water until gelatin and sugar are dissolved and mixture coats the back of the spoon. (I had the gas on 4, which is medium heat, and cooked it for twenty five minutes. Stir it regularly.) Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla and the run or cognac. Chill, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to thicken. (about 20 to 25 minutes).
8. Fold in the whipped cream and chopped dates.
9. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Gradually beat in the remaining two tablespoons of sugar. (That means sprinkle it in a little at a time as you beat.)Beat until mixture is stiff. Fold into date mixture. Pile into pie shell. Chill well. Garnish with whole dates before serving. Makes six servings.